I want to talk about a couple of things that interest me about the body as an illustration of the sefirot and channels. While the doubles are given witness in the apertures, many of the diagonal lines are given witness in the interior of the body, suggesting a passage from the outer to the inner which are almost the inverse of the relationship of the planets to the constellations. The body’s apertures open into a dark interior where the organs are discovered, while the planets serve as an aperture through which the visible constellations acquire influence on the earth.
The Sefer Yetzirah makes a distinction between the different domains upon which the sacred letters (channels) exert their generative force. There are three witnesses, Universe, Cycle, and Soul. Thus according to the Saadia version, Kaf produces the Sun, Tuesday, and the right nostril. So, while the Sun, Tuesday, and the right nostril are all Kaf-ish, Tuesday isn’t ‘solar’ anymore than the Sun is ‘Tuesday-ish.’
What they share is a common tie to a generative force, and we can call one by the other only through a sort of dual deployment of synecdoche and metaphor. We can call the Sun Tuesday-ish in a manner similar to how we can call a scepter crown-ly by both the scepter and crown being proper to a queen. There is truth to such poetical affirmation, but they are truths that unfurl only as the synecdoches are either followed back to their origins (mystical contemplation) or serve to call forth the creative word (magical invocation).
We can speculate that this way of thinking sits at the root of other practices with historical relationships to this material. When we’re looking at the <i>Ghayat al-Hakim/Picatrix</i> and reading about the way in which a certain rite mixes stone, dress, and the disposition of the heavens, we can read it as the ritualist’s ideal rite, a rite in which they trust (rightly or wrongly) to have identified a common set of generative forces (channels) which each element in the ritual invokes after is own fashion. That way of approaching it also provides some lines of exploration for how a ritual might be unpacked, used in part, mingled with other elements in a sort of grand permutation. What happens when the jester wears the crown or the soldier carries a scepter?
As an aside, when we talk about the body as one of the domains through which the tree of life manifests its generative powers, I’m starting to wonder what happens when we pay attention to dress in that context. What happens when we look to costuming to invoke forces on the body by the deployment of color, texture, and so on?
I will probably sit down sometime soon and think about adding a few new categories and subcategories around the discussions of the Kabbalistic material. I’m holding off a little because I want to have a sense of the directions it is opening. For this post I want to talk a little more about the apophatic dimension of the sefirot that I see underscored in Sefer Yetzirah (SY).
This returns to some of the practice-minded implications that began this growing series of posts around the SY.
If you’ve read around this blog much, I’m sure you saw this post coming. I didn’t want to rush it because so much of the work of assignment occurs on a level just below the conceptual, such that if I tried to jump right into reassigning the geomantic signs to the sefirotic diagram, I would surely over-conceptualize it and mangle it somewhat.
Today, though, I woke up with subway dreams about back channels, mapping the lyrics of Bush’s Glycerine half-consciously to the channels, and the line “Bad Moon Wine Again” on repeat. As I turned my attention to all that, the geomantic figures started to get moving in my head. Orion, Andromeda, and the Serpent came in for some clarification….Well, let’s just say it all started to make sense.
The little back and forth I had with Blogos on the last post helped bring home how subtly the rule of three operates across the tree of life. I suspect there is more than I’m seeing even with that awareness, but I want to keep chewing away on it. So, to take a quick tally:
- three horizontal lines that define the channels of the elements,
- three pillars that broadly divide the sefirot, and the three planetary channels joining Keter and Malkuth.
- three mother letters